The Case of the Reappearing Supernova

This animation demonstrates how light from Supernova Requiem was split into multiple images by a massive foreground cluster of galaxies along its 10 billion light-year path to Earth. The cluster’s gravity warps the fabric of space which magnified, brightened, and split the supernova’s light into multiple mages detected in 2016 by the Hubble Space Telescope.

However, some of the exploded star’s light is taking a longer path to Earth. It passed through the cluster’s central region where gravity is the strongest. The combination of gravity’s pull, and the longer route across space has delayed the light’s arrival at Earth. That light is predicted to finally reach Earth in 2037.

Stay tuned.

Video Credits: NASA / ESTEC / STScI / Greg T. Bacon (STScI)

Hubble Is Back In Business

These images are among the first from Hubble after its return to full science operations. On the left is ARP-MADORE2115-273, a rarely observed example of a pair of interacting galaxies. On the right is ARP-MADORE0002-503, a large spiral galaxy with unusual spiral arms. Most disk galaxies have an even number of spiral arms, but this one has three.

Image Credits: Science—NASA / ESA / STScI / Julianne Dalcanton (UW)
Image processing—Alyssa Pagan (STScI)

The Rotation of Neptune

This video is a full-globe map of Neptune created from Hubble Space Telescope data taken in January, 2020. The planet completes a rotation every 16 hours.

Neptune has dynamic weather. White clouds of methane ice crystals swirl around the planet, and two giant dark spots, giant storms, circle around the northern hemisphere. Around the southern pole, banding is concentrated where the winds are blowing west to east, in the same direction as the planet’s rotation. but near the equator, the winds blow east to west, in the opposite direction as the planet’s rotation.

The giant vortex near the equator is 4,600 miles across, wider than the Atlantic Ocean. Its slightly smaller companion is 3,900 miles across.

Video Credit: STScI

AG Caraine

This is a 3D animation of the star AG Caraine, a star that is in a balancing act between gravity and radiation to avoid self-destruction. It’s surrounded by an expanding shell of gas and dust—a nebula about five light-years wide, That’s roughly the distance from the Sun to our nearest star Alpha Centauri.

Video Credit: NASA / ESA / STScI

Black Holes and Star Formation

The supermassive black holes lurking at the centers of galaxies draw from the disks of gas and dust that orbit them. Massive jets of matter result that affect star formation locally and farther afield. This animation shows a model of that interaction. Watch as the jets and winds from a supermassive black hole affect its host galaxy and the space hundreds of thousands of light-years away over millions of years.

Video Credit: STScI

VY Canis Majoris


VY Canis Majoris is a red hypergiant and pulsating variable star which is extremely rich in oxygen. It’s about 3,900 light-years from Earth in the slightly southern constellation of Canis Major. It is one of the largest known stars and one of the most luminous and massive red supergiants. It’s also one of the most luminous stars in the Milky Way. This Hubble Space Telescope image shows the huge nebula of material cast off by VY Canis Majoris. This nebula is approximately a trillion miles across.

Image Credit: STScI

A Possible Future

Stars like our Sun end their lives by casting off their outer layers, briefly forming a spectacular “planetary nebula” like the Helix Nebula. In 5 billion years or so, our Sun will probably go through a similar blowout.

This brief video fades between images taken at different wavelengths which show different aspects of the nebula. Optical: Hot gas ejected from a dying star glows. Near-Infrared: Near-infrared light reveals cooler material. Mid-far-Infrared: Warm dust is identified in mid-infrared light. Infrared-Ultraviolet: The ultraviolet light traces the hot gas being expelled from the dying star.

Video Credit: STScI

A 3D Model of the Helix Nebula

The Helix Nebula (aka NGC 7293) is a large planetary nebula located in the constellation Aquarius. It’s about 700 light-years away. The Helix Nebula has sometimes been referred to as the “Eye of God.” Tolkien fans have occasionally called it the “Eye of Sauron”

This animation of a 3-D model was created from Hubble Space Telescope and ground-based data of the Helix Nebula.

Credit: NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon (STScI)

The Helix Nebula

The Helix Nebula (aka NGC 7293) is a large planetary nebula located in the constellation Aquarius. It’s about 700 light-years away. The Helix Nebula has sometimes been referred to as the “Eye of God.” Tolkien fans have occasionally called it the “Eye of Sauron”

This animation of a 3-D model was created from Hubble Space Telescope and ground-based data of the Helix Nebula.

Credit: NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon (STScI)

The Orion Nebula in False Color

This false color image of the Orion Nebula was generated using visible light and infrared data from two of the instruments onboard the Hubble Space Telescope. The image shows a segment of the sky about 0.002° wide. That works out to around 3.4 light-years at the nebula which is 1,500 light-years away.

Image Credit: Nasa / ESA / STScI

The Fireworks Galaxy

NGC 6946 is known as the Fireworks Galaxy, In the past century, nine supernovae have been observed to explode in its spiral arms. This makes it the most prolific known galaxy for this type of event over a period of 100 years. By comparison, the Milky Way galaxy, which has twice as many stars as NGC 6946, averages one supernova event per century.

Image Credits: NASA, ESA, STScI, R. Gendler, and the Subaru Telescope (NAOJ)

Mergers and Acquisitions

NGC 2207 is a pair of colliding spiral galaxies. Although individual stars are too far apart to collide, the material between them combines to create high-density pockets of gas. Those, in turn, gravitationally collapse, triggering a firestorm of star birth. This galaxy collision will go on for several millions of years, leaving the galaxies’ shapes completely altered.

This animation combines data from three satellite observatories. Optical: Hubble data shows trails of stars and gas trace out spiral arms, stretched by the tidal pull between the galaxies. Infrared: Spitzer data reveals the glow of warm dust; raw material for the creation of new stars and planets. X-ray: Chandra view reveals areas of active star formation and the birth of super star clusters.

Video Credit: STScI

Cassiopeia A

The expanding debris cloud known as Cassiopeia A is an example of the final phase of the stellar life cycle. This false-color image was out together using X-ray and optical image data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory and Hubble Space Telescope. IT shows the still hot filaments and knots in the remnant which span about 30 light-years. High-energy X-ray emission from specific elements have been color coded red for silicon, yellow for sulphur, green for calcium, and purple fr iron. The outer blast wave is shown in blue. The bright speck near the center is a neutron star, the incredibly dense, massive collapsed remains of the star’s core.

Image Credits: NASA /STScI

Messier 2

Messier 2 or M2 (aka NGC 7089) is a globular cluster in the constellation Aquarius. It’s one of the larger globular clusters known—rich, compact, and significantly elliptical—containing over 150,000 stars. It’s one of the oldest globulars in our galaxy, around 13 billion years old. This Hubble image shows the core of the cluster.

Image Credits: NASA, ESA, STScI, and A. Sarajedini (University of Florida)